“When the time comes, Bernstein clicks an invisible switch and the band pops into semi-flawless unison. At that point, you might imagine yourself in Harlem in 1929.” —Village Voice
Tearing into witty and funky new arrangements of little-known jazz nuggets from the 1920s and ‘30s, as well as radically transforming songs by artists such as Prince and the Beatles, Steven Bernstein (Grammy-nominated composer/Sex Mob trumpeter) leads an improvisational nine-piece outfit playing irreverent 21st-century jazz. Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra performs on Saturday, December 1, at 7 and 9:30 pm in the Walker Art Center’s William and Nadine McGuire Theater. The band is consistently praised for uniting sexy grooves spanning a century of music—from Don Redman to Sly Stone to the present—with free jazz abandon. Featuring Matt Munisteri (guitar), Ben Allison (bass), Charlie Burnham (violin), Ben Perowsky (drums), Erik Lawrence (reeds), Doug Wieselman (reeds), Peter Apfelbaum (reeds), Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), and Bernstein (trumpet, slide trumpet). Copresented with the Northrop Jazz Season.
Steven Bernstein is a trumpeter/slide trumpeter, bandleader, arranger, and composer who lives outside of musical convention. He has recently released three critically acclaimed CDs on John Zorn’s Tzadik label— Diaspora Soul, Diaspora Blues (featuring the Sam Rivers trio), and his most recent, Diaspora Hollywood.
His band Sex Mob, together since 1995, has toured the world, won numerous awards, and had their music featured on MTV, Saturday Night Live, and NPR. Sexotica, recorded for Thirsty Ear’s Blue series and produced by Good and Evil, is their most recent release. Their previous recording, Dime Grind Palace (Ropeadope), features legendary trombonist Roswell Rudd.
Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra recently released its debut recording, MTO Vol. 1, on Sunnyside records. MTO was formed in 1999 for a series of midnight shows at Tonic, and spent a year-and-a-half-long residency at the Jazz Standard. Bernstein also arranged and co-produced Baby Loves Jazz, featuring vocalists Sharon Jones and Babi Floyd, along with keyboard master John Medeski. The CD is available on Verve records.
Bernstein was the musical director for Lions Gate Film’s I’m Your Man, a documentary released in 2006 on Leonard Cohen focusing on a tribute concert held at the Sydney Opera house. He recently filmed an hour-long segment for Solos, a Canadian Television program featuring solo performances by musicians Andrew Hill, Joe Lovano, and John Scofield. Bernstein was also the subject of a recent feature entitled Creative Spaces on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Since November 2004 Bernstein has been a member of the Levon Helm band, playing at the Midnight Rambles in Levon’s home in Woodstock. Bernstein wrote the horn arrangements for Bill Frisell’s Grammy-winning 2004 recording Unspeakable, as well as for artists including Lou Reed, Jessie Harris, Shivaree, Elton John, and Marvin Pontiac.
In 1992, musical iconoclast Hal Willner produced the debut CD by Spanish Fly, a cooperative trio with Bernstein, slide guitarist Dave Tronzo, and tubaist Marcus Rojas, and they have been collaborating ever since. Bernstein has been music director on many Hal Willner projects, including tributes to Leonard Cohen, Doc Pomus, and Harold Arlen. He created the music for Robert Altman’s film Kansas City. He was also the music director for the touring version of the Kansas City band, which included David “Fathead” Newman, Don Byron, James Carter, Christian McBride, and Nicholas Payton.
During his 10 years as a member of John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards, Bernstein arranged the music for Get Shorty, Clay Pigeons, Fishing With John, and for many film, television, and commercial projects with Lurie.
For composer/Foetus mastermind Jim Thirwell, Bernstein arranged Steroid Maximus to be performed live by a 19-piece ensemble. As a composer he has scored the documentaries Keep the River on Your Right and Balloonhat; dance pieces for Alvin Ailey, Body Vox, the Donald Byrd Dance Company, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, and the San Francisco Ballet; and commercial jingles.
Bernstein has played trumpet with a diverse group of artists, including Marianne Faithfull, Linda Ronstadt, David Murray, David Berger, Digable Planets, Sting, Medeski Martin and Wood, Courtney Love, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Don Byron, and Mocean Worker. Awards include Downbeat critics poll 2006 (#1 Rising Star Arranger, #4 Rising Star Trumpeter) Downbeat critics poll 2005 (#1 Rising Star Arranger) Downbeat critics poll 2004 (#1 Arranger Tdwr, #2 Big Band – Millennial Territory Orchestra), Jazz Journalists Association 2003 (Rare Brass), and Downbeat Critics Poll 2002 (Sex Mob #1 Beyond Group, #1 Acoustic Jazz Group TDWR).
Tickets to Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orchestra are $35 ($30 Walker members) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.